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Frightfest 2022: Through the Screams of London - by David and Tara Court


(This article was originally published on Ginger Nuts of Horror in September 2022)


For five days between the 25th and 29th of August 2022, Leicester Square Cineworld and the nearby Prince Charles Cinema hosted Frightfest, one of the most prestigious genre events in the world. Thousands of horror fans flocked to see a selection of UK and Worldwide Premieres, and to see a curated array of short films from talents from around the globe. After last year’s somewhat subdued event – that saw a reduced number of guests due to the proximity to the Pandemic - this year it was back in style. More than 70 screenings across two cinemas and five screens; long and short horror movies, documentaries – and a variety of special guests.


It's the second Frightfest for Tara and myself (our exploits at our first can be found here) and this would be one that would come with some very special surprises, more of which later. Our train arrived in London on the Thursday afternoon and after checking into our hotel, we headed to the regular meeting spot for Frightfesters – The Imperial Pub. There we caught up with a few old faces, as the gravitational pull of the place drags in all passers-by.


Incidentally, our hotel - Zedwell Piccadilly – was excellently located, being a two-minute walk from the Leicester Square Cineworld, but somewhat odd. The rooms are windowless boxes; tidy and clean, but soulless. There’s something odd about switching off the lights in a room and being submerged in complete darkness where you have no idea what time it is outside your cocoon or what weather it is. It’s a little like kipping in a sensory deprivation tank.


Festival tickets buy you a guaranteed (and fixed) seat in the huge IMAX screen. Last year we were at the very back, this year we were at the very front – it’s a little quieter up front but more of a strain on the neck, but we had particularly good seating neighbours. (One thing about the festival; it’s good to make friends with the people sitting near you, because you’re going to see them a lot, so helps if they’re lovely – as ours were).


Neil Marshall opened the festival appearing on stage to present the World Premiere of his new movie, “The Lair.”


The Lair


A full screen, and nerves were taut – not just at the horror to come, but with memories of last year. Frightfest 2021 also kicked off with a movie with lofty expectations from a director called Neil; Neil Blomkamp with his movie “Demonic” (which can now be found haunting Supermarket bargain bins) – that movie was risible (with a great many “tense” scenes causing laughter with the audience), so we were hoping there wouldn’t be a repeat of that.


We needn’t have worried. Ably redeeming himself after his mediocre take on “Hellboy,” “The Lair” is a fun military versus monster melee with echoes of Neil’s “Dog Soldiers” that chugs along nicely. When an RAF Fighter Pilot (Lieutenant Kate Sinclair) is downed over Afghanistan, she is forced to take cover in a long abandoned Soviet Research station – waking up something that should have been left undiscovered.


Whereas much of the humour in the similarly themed “Dog Soldiers” comes from the entertaining notion of squaddies versus werewolves, the laughs in this come from the interactions between the ragtag soldiers that Kate finds herself amongst – American marines, Welsh squaddies, they’re all here.


The monster designs are interesting. There’s a final act reveal which doesn’t seem to get built up further or go anywhere – and some decidedly dodgy decisions from some of the soldiers – but it’s got all the fun and gore you’d want from a Frightfest film.


It’s tagged as “Dirty Dozen meets The Thing” but I never really picked up that vibe from it – tonally, it’s way more “Aliens” than “The Thing,” especially as the monsters are clearly a man in a suit. It’s not as smart or as character driven as “Dog Soldiers,” but it kept me vaguely entertained for its ninety-minute runtime.


Rating: 5/10


Scare Package 2 – Rad Chad’s Revenge


I really enjoyed “Scare Package” – I’m a sucker for an anthology at any rate, and the first movie was genuinely funny and clearly made by fans with an absolute love for the genre. It was a love-letter to the schlock and gore of the VHS era, and so there was considerable excitement for the sequel.


Directors and stars alike introduced the film – this one had four segments and a wraparound story, with one of the tales – “Special Edition” – directed by none other than Jed Shepherd (of “Host” fame) and featuring many of the cast from that pandemic-released Internet-séance-gone-bad movie.


“Scare Package 2” started well, with a well-observed spoof of the changing role of the Final Girl in nineties cinema but went downhill quickly. The short films themselves were all good – even though Jed’s “Special Edition” felt like it belonged in a different movie – but the surrounding storyline linking the tales together failed to entertain, coming across with the same level of low-hanging-fruit humour as the “Scary Movie” franchise. It felt like it had been thrown together with extraordinarily little care or finesse. Expectations were a little unrealistically high, so this was a real disappointment – and I’ll admit to not being overly excited by the prospect of a third film in the series.


I’ll give it this though – great poster.


Rating: 4/10


Next Exit


Last year it was the more thoughtful and poignant movies that struck a chord, and this year’s Frightfest was no exception. Gore is all very well and good – and there certainly was plenty of that – but it’s interesting to see genre pieces with a little more actual heart as opposed to grue. “Slapface” and “Evie” stood out last year as truly original and entertaining pieces of fiction, and “Next Exit” was, for me, one of this years’ standout movies.


How would the world change if the existence of the paranormal was proven? If scientists proved, beyond any doubt, that there was life after death? What effect would that have on our culture, on our civilisation?


Directed by Danny Elfman’s daughter Mali, “Next Exit” confronts that premise head-on. Rahul Kohli (Sheriff Hassan from “Midnight Mass”) stars as Teddy, and Katie Parker (from “The Haunting of Hill House) is Rose – both two disparate individuals trying to travel across America to meet at the Life Beyond Institute. Thrown together through a problem with a car booking at Charon Cars – appropriately named after the Hades Ferryman – these two troubled souls are forced to share a car on a journey that will force them to confront their own issues.


It's a road movie, but with two characters hurtling towards their own deaths. The Life Beyond Institute offering them a chance to pass on from this life and be pioneers in exploring the afterlife. Teddy wants this so he can finally have achieved something in his sorry existence, and Rose has her own personal reasons (and demons).


The relationship between these two quite different people is brilliantly conveyed – it’s funny without ever feeling forced, and you’ll come to genuinely care about these two individuals. It could be argued that it’s not entirely unpredictable, but it’s a journey worth watching – with a destination that’ll stay with you. Kohli and Parker were brilliant, as were the cast of damaged or uplifting characters that they meet enroute. Loved every moment of it, and I cried some ugly tears in that cinema – and from the number of sniffles and shiny cheeks of my fellow cinemagoers on the way out, I wasn’t alone.


Rating: 9/10


Short Film Showcase 1


Frightfest has always been a big advocate of supporting up and coming talent, and nothing is a greater example of this than the several short film showcases throughout the festivals five days. I was lucky enough to get tickets for all three such events and can safely say – based on the sheer quality and variety of the short cinematic experiences offered us – that the genre is in fine hands.


Whereas the next two showcases would concentrate on homegrown talent, this first collection of eleven films were from international contributors, from the US, Norway, Canada, Lebanon, France, the Republic of Korea, and Spain.


“Guts” from US director Chris McInroy kicked off proceedings, an everyday tale of an office worker cursed with having his intestines hanging out of his body. Hilarious and bloody, this went down an absolute storm with the festival crowd – as did “Meat Friend” that followed. Film lengths and styles varied dramatically, from short pieces building to jump scares to experimental ambiguous science fiction. Highlights were the aforementioned two pieces, and “The Living” - a charming little funny vampire tale starring genre stalwart Brad Dourif, and “Cicada” – a powerful piece that scooped a Cinéfondation Competition Cannes award. “Skin & Bone” is also worth seeking out; a short and atmospheric horror tale about a drifter who turns up looking for work on a farm, featuring Amanda Seyfried (of “Jennifer’s Body” fame).


Rating: 8/10


Eating Miss Campbell

Liam Regan’s 2015 debut film, “My Bloody Banjo”, was a statement. Here was a young man who knew exactly what kind of films he wanted to make, made no apologies for it and his hard work and patience paid off.


Liam says that “Eating Miss Campbell” is a sequel of sorts (some recurring characters from MBB), but I would be more inclined to say it’s more a shared universe, like Troma movies, clearly an enormous inspiration to Liam and his filmmaking. In fact, “Eating Miss Campbell” is a bona fide Troma production and has everyone’s favourite creepy kindly crazy uncle Lloyd Kaufman in it in a short cameo that provoked a huge, shocked intake of breath before gales of laughter.


Beth Conner (Lyndsey Craine) is a 17-year-old vegan goth misfit at Hennenlotter High School with parent issues and a death wish. She wants to die but cannot bring herself to take her own life. When Miss Campbell (Lala Barlow), a new English teacher, arrives at the school, Beth falls head over heels for her and they soon become romantically involved. Just one thing; Miss Campbell has a taste for human flesh.


With lots of nineties high school movie references (the Heathers/Mean Girls are called Melissa, Clarissa, and Joan), its firmly tongue-in-cheek, with Beth breaking the fourth wall from time to time.


It’s hard to know what to write without spoiling it all. Suffice to say horror stalwart and “My Bloody Banjo” alumnus Laurence R Harvey could give you another meaning for biting off more than you can chew.


I really loved this film: it’s funny, shocking (some tasteless gags in here, but if you know Troma, you know what you’re letting yourself in for). I’m so pleased for Liam that he he’s found proper backing and a friendship with Kaufman. Hopefully, this will lead to more people seeing this goofball film and Liam making more films.


Rating: 7/10


Something In the Dirt


There was a lot of festival buzz around this one, and unsurprisingly so. Since Moorhead and Benson burst onto the scene with “Resolution” in 2012, they’ve been quite the talents to watch. They’ve been busy since, releasing several more films as well as working on Jordan Peele’s “Twilight Zone” reboot, “Moon Knight,” and the forthcoming season 2 of “Loki”.


“Something in the Dirt” is a story of two disparate personalities, driven together by a supernatural encounter that they both endeavour to document and justify. This sends them both down a rabbit hole of conflicting conspiracy theories and will ultimately end in great tragedy.


It was one of the highlights of the festival and is their best work yet – it’s certainly more intimate than “The Endless,” but yet somehow feels bigger in scope. Ginger Nuts of Horror was lucky enough to bag an interview with Aaron, Justin, and producer Dave, so a full review (and that self-same interview) will feature on this site nearer the film’s official UK release date of 4th of November 2022.


Rating: 9/10


Candyland


A real surprise this one; it was one we hadn’t planned to see but went simply because we had some free time to kill and didn’t want to spend it in the pub – again. If anything, it’s instilled upon us that next year we really should pop out of our comfort zone and watch movies where the blurb doesn’t necessarily appeal – because we’ll end up seeing some absolute gems, like “Candyland”


Written and directed by John Swab, “Candyland” stars Eden (daughter of Josh) Brolin as Riley, one of several sex workers who live (and work) at an American Truck Stop. When a young girl is expelled from a nearby religious cult, the “lot lizards” take her under their wing, unaware of the danger her very presence will bring.


It’s an uncompromising and unflattering look at a slice of Americana that we’ve never seen before. It’s a cynical existence fraught with danger where any innocence is quickly stripped away, and it’s quite telling that – apart from the “Lot Lizards” – there are very few sympathetic characters. The local Madame is more concerned with where her money is coming from than the children under her care, and even the local visiting priest makes for one of the creepiest moments in the film.


It's unflinchingly brutal and violent. Sexual assault is commonplace, and that’s without even bringing the local weird religious cult into it. There are few moments of tenderness and joy, so the few fleeting instances in this grim reality stand out. “Candyland” is a powerful and impressive movie with a bloody and nihilistic conclusion you won’t see coming.


Rating: 8/10


The Duke Mitchell Film Club

How to describe The Duke Mitchell Film Club without using the words “nuts” or “bonkers.”


Picture the scene, a cinema screen in the Prince Charles cinema, just off Leicester Square, packed with horror fans armed with alcohol. Most of these fine folk knew what they were letting themselves in for. This reviewer did not. Almost two hours of weird, bizarre, extreme clips of films chosen by our hosts Evrim and Alex as well as FrightFest attendees as well as some of the directors who had films screening at FrightFest (Moorhead and Benson’s contribution is an absolute treat).


Evrim is an extremely charismatic host who doesn’t care what he says, who he upsets or who he annoys, and this setting is perfect for him. With competitions and giveaways of sweets, as well as those who contributed their film and short ideas getting a shot of whiskey or rum (Evrim drinks a shot of that each time one of the contributors does), it certainly makes for an hilarious and unexpected night to spend with other horror fans. It returned after a hiatus and proved as popular as ever, and is apparently always the hot ticket. Where else can you share your favourite weird clips with a load of people? I, for one, will never be able to look at Winnie the Pooh and his pop gun the same way again.


Rating: 8/10


Short Film Showcase 2


The second short film showcase of the festival (and third) are dedicated to the UK side of things, so it was nice to see so many of the directors (and cast) at the start of the showing introducing themselves and their work.


Again, a variety of themes and lengths. Tales of missing teeth, sisterly squabbles, haunted film reels, holding your breath for an agonizingly long time, and terrifying alien entities. All good, but there were four absolute standouts from this batch of shorts worthy of elaborating.


“Everyone Forgot” (directed by Theo Kai Marlow) started innocently enough, with protagonist Lily bemoaning the fact that everybody seems to have forgotten her birthday. It’s only when she hires a handyman solely for his company on this special anniversary, that things begin to take a very dark turn.


“The Microscope” (directed by Elliot Vick) is a short tale about a microscopist and his deadly unexpected encounter with the macroscopic. A tour-de-force from sole star Johnny Vivash, it’s an enthralling one-man show – bloody, gruesome, and quite beautiful. Worth keeping an eye out for.


“Bleep” (Ben S. Hyland) looks on the surface to be a tale of a squabbling couple interrupted by a mysterious bleep, but ends up in quite unexpected territory. This got one of the biggest laughs and rounds of applause from any film at the festival this year – genuinely hilarious, and quite unpredictable.


“Legs” (Celine Cotran) was one of my very favourites, starring Laura Carmichael of “Downton Abbey” fame. Laura plays Joy, a woman desperately trying for a baby who ends up developing a taste for flies after accidentally swallowing a spider in her sleep. What could have been quite a silly tale was surprisingly poignant, and the tale had one of my favourite pieces of visual comedy in a long time – a straight-faced doctor handing Joy an official NHS leaflet titled “You’ve swallowed a spider.”


So many hits in this one, it was my favourite of the three.


Rating: 8.5/10


Keeping the British End Up


I, Tara, see myself as a fierce intersectional trans inclusive feminist who stands up for women’s rights whenever and wherever I can. I am also a huge fan of saucy 1960s and 1970s films, such as the “Carry On” and “Confessions Of” series of films. I’m a walking contradiction, my favourite “Carry On” film is “Carry On Girls” which is about a beauty contest being interrupted by stereotypical “feminists”. I don’t know what attracts me so to these films, but I can’t get enough of them. So when I discovered a book years ago called “Keeping the British End Up” by Simon Sheridan, I knew I had to read it. And now, after what started out being a 90-minute film about this genre of film, “Keeping the British End Up” has been expanded into a documentary series over four hours which will be shown over four episodes. At FrightFest, Simon had selected scenes to show us, such as a section about the Dirty Mac Brigade and the role of women in British Sex comedies which, looking on now, were very much the predators and the cougars to the inept and clueless men with which they were paired.


The series will explore what happened to Mary Millington, star of Come Play with Me and also has interviews with lots of familiar bottoms, boobs, and faces (Robin Askwith, Sue Longhurst, Linzi Drew and others) discussing how they broke into the saucy film industry and how it affected them overall. It looks like a really fun romp, and I absolutely cannot wait until we see it in its full (morning) glory.


Rating: 6/10


Everybody Dies by The End


Starring Vinny Curran (who you may recall from Moorhead and Benson’s “Resolution”) as Alfred Costella, a narcissistic and egotistical director. “Everybody Dies by the End” follows a documentary camera crew as they follow the making of his latest masterpiece – and all the trials and tribulations that such an undertaking involves. Costella is determined to make this one film the one he’s remembered for – and he will go to any lengths to achieve precisely that goal. If you think Tippi Hedren suffered at the hands of Hitchcock, you ain’t seen nothing yet.


The deliberately unambiguous title may give away both plot and conclusion, but it’s a lively plot held together by Curran’s sheer exuberance and talent. He’s perfectly cast as the maniacal director, and this one was a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to interview the creators, so a full feature will appear on the pages of Ginger Nuts of Horror in due course – but this one comes thoroughly recommended.


Rating: 7.5/10


Cult of VHS


A love letter to the video cassette, this Kickstarter-funded documentary (introduced and created by Rob Preciado) is a 70-minute blast-from-the-past for anybody, like me, who grew up in the era of the video cassette. These clunky top-loading video recorders the size of a small family car changed film forever, suddenly making it possible for us to watch cinema films within the confines of our own home – repeatedly.


With interviews with movie directors and videotape collectors alike, it’s a fascinating – and surprisingly in-depth – look at an era that seems so long ago now, in this age of streaming where physical media is dwindling in importance daily.

It’s hard to understate the importance of the video shop back in the eighties – these places were the temples of genre fans, walls of lurid covers beckoning us in. Now it’s all too easy to switch off a terrible film (after you’ve spent three hours browsing streaming services to pick one) – in those days you’d gone to the trouble of travelling away from home to pay to rent it, so you were going to watch it, regardless of how bad it was. Also, no film about the VHS would be complete without mentioning the days of the video nasty, and this is also touched upon.


It was a format that changed the world, and that inspired generations of moviemakers. And it’s great to see that such an entertaining subject has an equally worthy documentary.


Now we just need the follow-on movie – “Cult of Betamax.” It’ll only be three minutes long, at most.


Rating: 8.5/10


Wolf Manor


Dominic Brunt (who you might know as Paddy from Emmerdale) is no stranger to Frightfest, having premiered a few of his movies here (“Until Dawn,” “Bait,” and “Attack of the Adult Babies”). One of my highlights of Frightfest 2021 was “Evie”, directed by Brunt and Jamie Lundy – it’s yet to see proper release, but hopefully soon to see the light of day.


Introduced by Dominic and the movies (surprisingly eloquent) hairy lycanthrope star, “Wolf Manor” is a movie that proves that there isn’t a genre that he’s not afraid to have a go at – here, it’s horror comedy.


Based around the filming of a vampire movie in an old remote manor house, this follows the exploits of the film crew, lead actor and levee Oliver Lawrence (Lawrence Olivier, geddit?) and a local werewolf. He’s riffing heavily on “American Werewolf in London” here and those familiar with that seminal classic will see the humour in the various references, Easter Eggs, and pointers to that source material.


An odd one this; it starts strongly with a very amusing satire on the “Slaughtered Lamb” scene from “American Werewolf in London.” It’s good to see John Henshaw running a pub again after the closure of The Grapes in 2004 (“Early Doors”, one of the best sitcoms ever produced), and it sets the scene well. It’s letting you exactly the type of movie it will be, with a knowing wink to the audience – and should have found an ideal home in front of a group of avid horror fans.


Sadly, it's good but not great. There are some odd self-serving character decisions – one in particular – that seem to spring from nowhere, and it feels more driven by gags than by a plot. Characters are given little back story, so you care equally little for their fates – and the most interesting piece of plot development and story comes in a post-credit sequence featuring Rula Lenska.


Still, it passes the comedy test in providing some laughs – which is more than can be said for “Scare Package 2”. It’s a film you won’t feel that you’ve wasted any time watching, but it’ll be forgotten before the end credits have finished rolling.


Rating: 6.5/10


Short Film Showcase 3


Another turnout for the UK directors and cast in this, the last of the three short film showcases.


The talent on display in these short showcases is nothing short of incredible, both behind and in front of the camera. There were a few in this that left me a little cold – nothing against them, just not to my particular taste – but again, a solid selection of horror titbits.


One of the standouts of this final showcase were the opening film “Eric” (director: David Yorke), a short film about a girl (Jemma Moore, “Host”), her dog – the titular Eric – and her new boyfriend. Joshua learns – the hard way - that one should never come between a dog and her owner.


“A Little Death,” directed by and starring Maria Pawilkowska, looks to be a straightforward tale of succubine shenanigans, but ended with a poignant – and quite wry – ending that I didn’t see coming (no pun intended).


“Who am I?” (Christopher Newberry) was a haunting and slow-burning tale of a seemingly innocent game between a mother and her daughter, ending on a truly chilling note.


“Crafty Witch” (Laura Beth-Crowley) was one of the few animations of the festival – short, sweet and with a distinctive animation style – and with an absolutely inspired ending.


Shelagh Rowan-Legg did an amazing job in all three showcases of gathering a truly eclectic and excellent selection of films; there were many standouts this year, and very, very few duds.


Rating: 7.5/10


Living With Chucky


As someone who has been Chucky at Halloween a couple of times (I have the hair for it, why not?) this was on my must watch list. I’ll admit to not being the biggest of fans of the Child’s Play franchise, but as a documentary lover I was invested. “Living With Chucky” is written and directed by Kyra Gardener whom, we learn through the film, has effectively grown up with Chucky as her dad, Tony Gardner, who is a special effects guru. He many horror hits under his belt (including “Return of The Living Dead”). He took on the SFX from 2004’s “Seed of Chucky”.


This film is definitely a family affair, we meet with Brad Dourif who plays the deadly doll of death alongside his daughter Fiona, who appeared in “Cult of Chucky.” We learn about how they worked together for the first time and how proud Brad is of Fiona.


We also meet fellow cast members, Alex Vincent (Andy Barclay in “Child Play” and “Child’s Play 2”) Jennifer Tilly (Tiffany, Chucky’s main squeeze), as well as Billy Boyd (Glen/Glenda from “Seed of Chucky”). Everyone shares stories of how they got along on set and how they all stay connected and how it’s very much one big family.


From a demonic doll grows a genuine friendship and family of sorts with all of those who have worked on the franchise, with Chucky’s creator, Don Mancini, at its very warm heart. This film is a delight.


Rating: 8/10


Tiny Cinema


I was never lucky/unlucky enough to see director Tyler Cornack’s “Butt Boy” (2019) – delete as applicable – so when the audience of “Tiny Cinema” were warned it was like six Butt Boys, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Preceded by an excellent horror short (“Our First Priority,” a short tale of medical gaslighting) “Tiny Cinema” is an anthology film comprised of six individual unrelated shorts.


I’ve expressed my love for anthology films several times on the hallowed pages of Ginger Nuts of Horror, and this film reminds me why I so adore them – especially when they offer a selection of different bums in the director’s chair and writers. I’m no fan of gross-out humour – but I’ll admit I can see the appeal and entertainment in the shock value. Some of the tales here are quite smart and go in unexpected directions, and some are simply crude for the sake of crudeness. The joy is that with six tales, none of them outstay their welcome – so everybody is happy.


The standout segments here were “Game Night,” which sees a twist on the old “That’s what she said” gag taken to extremes, and “Edna,” a tale of finding love in strange places. “Daddies home” is the last good one to finish off the film, a tale of unusual body horror and snorting the ashes of one’s deceased relatives – and why no good can come of it.


Your mileage may vary, but I was entertained throughout – even the weaker pieces held my interest long enough to see them through.


Rating: 5.5/10


Terrifier 2


Our friend Art the Clown returns in this lengthy sequel to the 2016 hit “Terrifier”, his third outing after first appearing in director Damien Leone’s anthology movie “All Hallows Eve” (2013). Played brilliantly by David Howard Thornton, Art the Clown is sinister and funny as well as horrifying with mime skills that could put Marcel Marceau to shame.


Art is back in his trademark black and white outfit, complete with tiny top hat. This time though he’s terrorising Sienna and her brother Jonathan. It’s a year since the events of last Halloween when Art the Clown went on his killing spree, with a very inventive use of a saw that made this reviewer wince and sit cross legged for an AWFULLY long time.


We learn that Sienna and Jonathan lost their dad, and they live with their mom. It’s Halloween, and Sienna’s working hard on making a costume based on a character her late father drew especially for her. Jonathan had planned to go as our friend Art the Clown, but Sienna and their mom have other ideas.


As bloody and as gory as Terrifier, with some creative kills and a “blink and you’ll miss her” cameo from Ms “Sleepaway Camp” herself, Felissa Rose, “Terrifier 2” is a whole heap of gore-soaked fun with some decent scares. Personally, the run time was a little long for me and some scenes were clearly added in just to bump up the run time.


With imaginative dream sequences and a catchy song that will never leave your brain EVER (Food’s a little funny at the Clown Café), Terrifier 2 sees Art the Clown AND writer and director Damien Leone’s star on the rise. I will leave you with two words though that I heard repeated as I left the cinema; “MAGIC SWORD?!”


Rating: 7/10


Fall


I – David – am both terrified of heights and a massive claustrophobe, so expected this film to have the same effect on me as Neil Marshall’s 2005 “The Descent”. Every frame of that film makes my skin crawl, so it works very well as a horror for me. It could be argued that “Fall” isn’t a horror film, but it certainly is for me, my friend.


Introduced by Writer/Director Scott Mann and co-writer Jonathan Frank, “Fall” was to be the last film of the festival. The IMAX screen was packed to the rafters – like last year’s “The Sadness” – and this was to be the movies European premiere.


Whereas “The Descent” took us deep underground into uncharted caves, “Fall” takes us up, up and away to the heights of an abandoned 2000-foot-tall radio tower. Whereas “The Descents” hero Sarah is mourning her husband, “Fall” sees Becky doing the same after hers was lost in a climbing accident.


Encouraged to grab life by the horns, friend Hunter (all push-up bra and attitude) encourages Becky to join her on this epic climb, but obviously – this being a movie – things do not go according to plan.


It’s hard to impress upon you how effective this looks on a three-storey tall IMAX screen – from the vertiginous opening scenes to its lingering and continued peril at high altitude, it’s dizzyingly good. The makers insisted that the audience treated it like a fairground ride, and it’s the ideal attitude to approach this film.


The plot will offer few surprises along the way – except for one major one that really knocked me for six – but it hardly matters, in the grand scheme of things. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a thrill-ride and it does that very, very well. Just enough characterization and character development to keep you happy, but what it really wants to do is remind you how damn high up you are.


I doubt how impactful this will be on your TV – unless you’re rich enough to have a really, really big television – so this is a film that demands to be seen at the cinema. I didn’t find myself wanting to shout at any of the characters for doing anything silly or illogical, and the plot itself moves along nicely and with a profound sense of tension. It’s the sort of film where you’ll have to remind yourself to keep breathing.


Overall, a fantastic way to end a great festival.


Rating: 7.5/10


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